NOTE: This thread exists to make genuine observations and prompt actual discourse in the readers. If you wish to post along the lines of 'I'm such an individual and don't give a shit' then you're individual in the sense that god will find a unique hell for your ass to suffer in for wasting our time.
There is precious little left in this world that remains a mystery, which we don't know or care to know. There is no part of the map that reads 'Here be dragons', that our blood burns to fill with landmasses and coastal formations and interesting and imaginative nations like "Ultropia' and 'Doom Mountain'. There isn't much we can't get online and pretend to know, isn't much we can't ask someone to teach us, or pay to pretend to teach us. There just isn't, I think, all that much we can't fathom.
I found something of this nature, however, and was then given the chance to dip my toes in its waters.
A slightly warped and Labyrinthine mind dreamt of a scheme where she might take an escapist user who was well known, if not well liked, and slip a doppelganger in his place at something known as 'Escapism'. At his doom-keyboard, surrounded by a twisting world of pain and flame, someone in a horned blue helmet leaned towards the screen and laughed at the possibilties. A booming, masculine laugh as his Ultramind fathomed beating down the last walls of experience and bringing a level of awesome to the fairer sex not seen since Joan of Arc beat the shit out of god, at least I think that's how it went down.
An Ultra-proxy was found, a girl with the ability to convince the escapists that she was in fact someone who had identified himself as male for an entire year. She can make her own introductions if she pleases, because while the temptation to just laugh as thunder backlights my armoured, maniacal form is great, I am here for a greater purpose. That, and me ousting someone's privacy at this point would be more hypocritical than god going back in time to abort an abortion doctor, at least I think that's how it went down.
Many of you know this. I have told many of you this. I have told many of you that you are the only one who knows this. Many of you have figured it out, or suspected as much, and even more of you do not care in the slightest. This is not important, because while I will devote a section to laughing insanely, there is a greater purpose to this post. I learned things, escapists, and I was genuinely surprised. The following are anecdotes and observations I accumulated during my time in the body of the enemy.
Story 1: Reverse And Reset
I know some of you. I have known many of you for over a year, many of you have my MSN and knew my name, many of you shared me your secrets and problems, and while I have never been good at sharing back I have been a friend to you. It took one thread and 30 seconds for these people, these friends, to become strangers.
My first lesson of the world through rose-tinted glasses was that there really is a boys club. We laugh along when the women we know joke about the no-girls zone, and we know it's a joke, because who doesn't like to do stuff with chicks? And the girls only ever joke about it, because they don't see it all that much, it's not readily available to them without some effort. Allow me to confirm its existence for you, ladies and gentlemen, because I frolicked cheerfully into it at high speed, like a fly on the windscreen of a large truck.
I had a great deal of fun imagining a fly in plate mail twitching on my windscreen, until I realized that the fly was technically me and stopped suddenly to try and save it before I remembered it was only a metaphor and I was now upturned in a ditch with a drive shaft impaling me.
There's a protocol, it seems, for talking to the other half of the population. I've never noticed it (to be fair, I used to refer to the majority of women by whatever subculture they fall roughly into with the suffix 'tits' tacked on. I feel this is falling firmly but surely on the wrong side of ambiguity, because it means when I finally meet Dame Judy Dench I'm going to be sued for the phrase 'Thespi-tits') before (wow, long brackets) and its certainly never impeded conversation with them as far as I could see, but perhaps it's best to think of it like your underwear. Your mates might see you in your underwear, because their always barging into your place and probably don't give a shit (Mine don't, at any rate. Perhaps I should stop barging into their rooms in my underwear) but you wouldn't be as casual with your female acquaintances, usually (Once again, I may not be the perfect example here). Your girlfriend, your wife, your therapist, they all see you in this underwear, of sorts, and they expect to see it because they know you very well. But it's something we as males seem to have between each other very naturally, and the fact that I had to worm my way back into said underwear drawer with people whom I had metaphorically seen naked...
The Revelation: I, and you may be different, but this certainly applies as far as my experience goes, take for granted a lot of the automatic intimacy two guys have when they are buddies. I also take for granted that this just doesn't happen as easily with the ladies, even if you've literally seen them in their underwear, or worn their underwear while they sleep (sorry, Pixietits). This isn't a hard and fast rule, but having to deal with the bollocks and facades when before no such things existed got old really fast. The hypocrisy of this coming from someone more in love with withholding information more than he loves the feel of lacy silk on his junk is palpable, but does make it somewhat more poignant. It's not malevolent or deliberate, but when you get to experience the dissonance, it can be a pain.
The Change: I realized how much of a bitch it is to deal with me when I hold a conversation like I've written this article, from behind an Ultrahelm, for those of both genders. So I went out into the real world and cyberspace and I took it off for a day. Jury is still out on the results.
Story 2: Shiny Yes. But So Is Mercury. Both Build Up.
None of you can flirt. I'm just putting that right in the first sentence, so we can move on without any bullcrap metaphors and my usual level of pissery. I didn't expect much more when I took the opportunity to play a not unattractive girl on a forum of 13-21 year old male gamers, but it's one thing to watch the broadsides roll and another to be the target. It's a risk of the context, the internet, that at any time anyone can say anything they want to you. This turns the landscape into a minefield, where at any point any of the people around you might sheepishly push a ham-fisted compliment in your direction. The problem isn't that these are inherently bad, I felt rather flattered for about 4 seconds before I realized it wasn't me they weren't complimenting, but the body I had rented for my overly capitalized and error-riddled text. They seemed forced, they were inserted at random times into the conversation and they always seemed to be handed shakily from a behind a bunker of plausible deniability. As someone who's favourite line is 'Hey, I just crushed your puny male, want to watch me try and swallow and entire lemon?', I was once again smacking into a culture divide that really shouldn't be, because gender isn't a damn culture.
Ok, nobody was hopeless, but what slaps my metal face (while my dignity is harmed, your knuckles are now broken) is the suggestion that they were necessary. It's very easy to say 'But it's a compliment' or 'are you saying it isn't true?' to justify these comments, but think for a second on the person you're giving them to. They don't need the internet for validation, they don't expect it, they haven't changed their hair or dressed up for the occasion, and they might just be sick of thoughtful comments that evidently have very little thought in them. And the fact that nobody ever complimented me on my threads, my posts, or my philosophies, and I certainly never got compliments in this number before I installed illusionary ovaries makes me question the cause of this rose-petal barrage. They might be nice, but they aren't necessary.
If one more person tackles/hugs/licks me in IRC, i'm going to track you down and rub my unexpected testicles in your face. They are acidic.
The Revelation: I have to admit, i've known about this one for a while, ever since I was done an immense service years ago when some fed-up friend sat me down and gave me the above explanation. I'm certainly not cured, but I like to think I can now pick exactly when they'll cause the most frustration. I was tempted to put this down as the oddly homo-reactive denial of a mostly straight man tossed into the female shape, but given how many of me 'fellows' have similar complaints, I'm going to call this one valid.
The Change: I still can't put into words exactly why this is irksome, I'll let those with more experience enduring it do that for me, but it's given me an increased respect for just how much shit our escapist ladies put up with. Kudos, you sexy beasts, you delectable insatiable goddesses, who always post the most relevant and interesting topics and posts and have boobs.
Story 3: If I Go To The Kitchen, It's Only To Fetch A Blade.
This is a short one.
If it's off-topic, unnecessary, unrelated or just bad, don't make sexist jokes. You don't know everyone who might read your 'joke', you don't know who might take offense. You wouldn't shout black jokes in the middle of the street, so don't leave this crap where we (they) might stumble onto them.
No, it's not 'just a joke'. It's the dozens we (they) see every day, informing us (them) that we're (they're) just a joke that gets on the nerves. Just don't. On a site that is regularly offended whenever the traditional basement-gamer stereotype is played for laughs, this should really be self-evident.
Story 4: Girls Are Evil
For anyone who frequents the escapist IRC channel, you may have noticed a gradual change in my behaviour from the moment I 'revealed' myself to now. I discovered, in degrees of amusement, that being female opens up a whole range of options you may employ. There's the effect it has on your use of the /giggle, there's the increased impact of mentioning you're naked (I was actually naked, but not who you thought I was), and there's generally the level of dickery you can have fun with when your genitals protrude inwards.
The Revelation: Perhaps it was the fact that I'm actually male, but guys are surprisingly easy to understand when at the driver's seat of a Venus native. Given how much my fellow XX'ers also seem to enjoy exploiting this dissonance, it would seem that it comes naturally to them as well. It's like the unspoken and extremely unlikely possibility that I may come into contact with your genitals made it possible to kick you in the groin from a continent away. I have recently learned to enjoy this possibility, deny it as I did before.
The Change: I wasn't paranoid, it really is fun for them to fuck with my head. This is a weight off my shoulders, sort of.
Story 5: Evil Schemes Are Not As Fun As Escapism
I did laugh. I did laugh, and laugh, and laugh. I laughed as people changed completely when they imagined a better filled Ultrasuit. I laughed as drama unfolded in threads and I messed with heads on IRC.
I laughed as I watched the stories roll back from Sydney and the jaws drop in the light of my false revelation. I laughed as you had fun at my command, enjoyed yourself in a lie as I laughed in my chair at home with only my terrified dog not knowing what the crap was happening and cowering under the bed. I laughed as you foolishly played games and ate ice-cream, laughed as I dropped my burnt toast to where the dog could steal it.
I laughed slightly less when I realized I had given up the opportunity to meet some awesome people in the name of a joke. The Joke was on me, it seems.
I'll not lie, I've enjoyed this romp into the pinker side of the street, I've learned a great deal more than I've written here and no words can express the amount of respect I have gained towards the women I know, especially those on the internet. I've had fun, and I've shared laughs with those in on the joke and at those not in on it. I've become an even more potent weapon of raw seduction and Ultraness, and I've enjoyed making friends I never would have as I pretended to be a different person.
Naturally, I can be very abrasive, as anyone who has chatted to me one-on-one might tell you, but taking on different persona has let me get to know some very rewarding people. And I've learned a lot about myself. But remember how I said the jury was out on the result of letting some of me into the hands of others? Well, they're still out, but they're certainly going to leap at the next chance to do some empirical testing.
Not bad, for a scheme I didn't even come up with.
PS: Someone by my name might be at Escapism in December. It probably won't be me.
PPS: As of this point, the short jokes cease, I am now 8-foot tall and your god again.
This 'Rockerjoe' was done by Labyrinth, in case anyone doesn't know